Irresistibly Catherine

Posted online: January 2018

The Oscar-winning actress on why she loves Santa Barbara, why she’s the best “Catholic Jewish mother” ever, and launching a new home collection

Written by Degen Pener Photographs by John Russo

“I get spoiled every time I’m in Santa Barbara,” says actress Catherine Zeta-Jones of the experience of staying with her mother and father-in-law, Anne and Kirk Douglas, when her family visits the Central Coast. “We stay with Pappy and Oma in their house, of course. Kirk is Pappy and Anne is Oma. All the grandkids call them Pappy and Oma and I call them that as well. I’m a kid at heart too.” To welcome their son Michael’s wife to the family years ago, the Douglases had a plaque made for the guest suite. “They named it the Zeta Suite and it’s still on the door,” says Zeta-Jones. “They have that old-school way of knowing how a guest should feel. They just treat you right.”

The Oscar-winning actress—who, along with her equally famous husband, has residences in Bermuda, Spain, and the upstate New York town of New Bedford (“I think we collect homes more than we collect art,” she says)—knows a thing or two herself about making a comfortable nest. Recently, she launched her first home-goods collection on QVC, cleverly titled Casa Zeta Jones, which includes bedding, rugs, tablecloths, pillows, even a comfy robe with a faux-fur collar. It’s a project she’s dreamed of doing for years, inspired by everything from her Welsh roots (Celtic knots figure into certain designs) to her sojourns to far-flung spots such as Istanbul and Morocco. “I’m always on the search for stuff. I think my real passion is creating a home environment, because having a private place is such a solace for me and Michael. I wanted to take it a step further and create a brand that’s beautiful, elegant, accessible, affordable, and high quality,” says the Chicago, Traffic, and Mask of Zorro star who describes her decorating style as traditional—“but not heavy”—with art deco and even modern touches. “It’s eclectic. I mix a lot of real, serious pieces with, you know, treasures I find along the way whether it’s while traveling or at thrift stores or on eBay,” she says. “I love a good bargain.”

Following up on her recent turn as Olivia de Havilland in Ryan Murphy’s Feud miniseries, Zeta-Jones will be back on the screen in January with her first lead role in nearly five years, a meaty part that has her playing a notoriously murderous drug lord, the real-life Griselda Blanco in the new Lifetime movie Cocaine Godmother. In it, she’s eerily convincing as the infamous cutthroat who was said to have invented the drive-by motorcycle shooting and was responsible for the murders of some 200 people in Colombia, Miami, New York, and Southern California during a crime run that spanned from the late 1970s to her death in 2012. “My family saw a very early cut and my husband got a little scared for a minute,” says Zeta-Jones, who says it’s a part she’s wanted to play for a long time. “These deeper roles don’t come around very often. This is a woman who has no redeemable qualities. I’m totally against everything she stands for. But there’s a fascinating character in there who’s very sad and very tortured, a person who came from the gutter and became the most powerful and feared woman in that world.”

Catherine and Michael’s holidays from work—he’s recently been shooting the sequel to Ant Man in Atlanta—are often spent in Santa Barbara where family takes center stage. Their daughter Carys is 14; son Dylan, who loves the opportunity to surf, is 17. “I know I’m biased, but it’s the proudest thing Michael and I have ever done. They are just great kids,” says Zeta-Jones, who calls herself “the best Catholic Jewish mother you’ll ever meet. I was christened Catholic and my husband is Jewish. Our kids have both chosen the Jewish faith and they were bar and bat mitzvahed. Kirk and Anne were so happy.” Among the things the family likes to do in Santa Barbara are attend the film festival, swim at the Coral Casino, and take walks at the Douglas Family Preserve, the largest area of coastal open space within the Santa Barbara city limits. It got its name in the mid-1990s after Michael donated a crucial $600,000 (out of a total cost of $3.6 million) to help preserve it from development. “We go walking and we feel very proud that coastline is protected. Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in the world and I’m not just talking about the fantastic microclimate. There’s a wonderful artistic community here that we just fit into. It’s just a very special place for me.”

“Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s just a very special place for me.”

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